Practical Ecommerce

Usability Report Card: Headsets.com

Earlier this year, Headsets.com was calling the checkout button “save to cart.” We commented on this horrid usability, and the company let us know it made a change when they redesigned the site. Headsets.com is selling mostly to small to medium businesses, so the site must appeal more to the rational elements than the emotional elements of selling. However, this doesn’t mean it should abandon the emotional sell altogether. Let’s see how the site is doing 10 months later as Practical eCommerce revisits the site for this report card.

Home page clarity

Headsets.com appears to be a cluttered site at first. There is a lot of text and the left-side column is, unfortunately, not used for product categories. Instead it’s used for offering live chat and customer service by email. On a positive note, product categories reside in tabs along the top of the page while two pictures of models using different headsets take center stage and push the emotional sell. Larger ecommerce sites are better off using this space to sell categories instead of products, but for www.headsets.com, this is a smart use of the home page.

Ease of browsing

Browsing Headsets.com is incredibly easy thanks to the Headset Wizard. Headsets are the kind of product most customers know little about before buying them, and the wizard guides them through the process. The wizard asks whether the headset will be used with a phone, computer or mobile phone; whether a corded or wireless headset is preferred and notes five other preferences. This makes shopping for a headset fast and less of a technical challenge.When browsing by standard categories, www.headsets.com allows the results to be filtered by many different options including the most important—price.

Searching

The search function is above average.When searching for a product, such as “plantronics cs50,” the first three results are all different packages that include the Plantronics CS50. By clicking “More Product Result” (should be “results”), you are then shown the accessories for the cs50 below the actual headsets. Misspelled searches such as “platronics cs50” still return the same results, but, unfortunately, a search for “plantronics c50” or “plantronics cs5” confuses the system. Despite that, most sites don’t come near this usability in their search functions.

Category pages

The product filtering on the site is great. All category pages are displayed in a list format, a style that doesn’t match the more popular grid format in either aesthetics or ease of use. The categories are segmented between four types of headsets, which are then broken down into roughly six subcategories each. These subcategories can then be filtered by brand, style and type of microphone.

Product pages

The product pages are appealing. They are pleasantly arranged using tabs. A quick description shows two pictures, one is static and one is on a model, and gives the fast-and-dirty specs on the headset. Tech Specs, Compatibility, Accessories, Reviews, Images and Downloads are all tabs as well. The best feature of the product pages is the live chat box found in the Compatibility tab.

Checkout process

The checkout process is clear, concise and a marked improvement over our previous review of the site. One thing is sure—they have come a long way since calling the checkout button “save cart.”

Customer service

The site does a great job putting customer-service contact information in obvious places. The phone number is displayed prominently in the upper left of the site at all times and live chat is available to answer any questions. They even go so far to include graphs of calls answered under four rings, technical issues resolved and orders received on time.

  • Another month, another F for error recognition. Headsets.com says they would rather accept incorrect entries and let their customer service deal with the problems, but shopping carts should not accept incorrect credit cards. Offline verification of credit cards breaks the flow of the process if a customer unknowingly enters a wrong number. The customer must then deal with calls or emails and eventually will wonder why he didn’t just call to begin with, rather than ordering online. Real-time verification is a must for online retail.

    Error recognition

    Headsets.com comes up with an overall B grade for the site. Once again the failure at error recognition hurt the grade. Good business is in the details, and while www.headsets.com has realized this in seven of the categories, the eighth is just as important.

    Usability Report Card
    Headsets.com

    Home Page Clarity B
    Ease of Browsing A-
    Searching A-
    Category Pages B-
    Product Pages A
    Checkout Process A
    Customer Service A+
    Error Recognition F
    OVERALL GPA B

    Request a site grade by emailing usability@practicalecommerce.com.

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